The heroics against Bayern Munich in the Uefa Champions League final were not only special for Chelsea FC, who finally lifted the trophy of the most coveted club competition in the world. The South London club has also become the first representative of the British capital and the south of England to win the European title, ending the monopoly from the northern sides - Manchester United and Liverpool, for example, have a combined total of eight continental triumphs.
This hegemony is rooted in the British social dynamics. It was in Northern England, the cradle of the Industrial Revolution, that the first football clubs were founded, in the 19th century, as means of leisure to the huge number of workers in the region plying their trade in factories, mills and forges.
No surprise then that the 12 original members of the Football League, formed in 1888, were from the upper part of the map. Neither was it striking that these clubs had a head start. The industrial cities grew and attracted an increasing number of migrants from all parts of the isles and to whom football gave a sense of community and belonging. Northern clubs then gained much more importance than their counterparts in Southern cities, where social structures were more rigid.
Although London nowadays boasts the biggest number of clubs in the Barclays Premier League (the English First Division), it's not a football capital. It was only in the 1930s, for example, that a Southern Club (Arsenal), finally won the league title.
Since the nineties, however, it has been inevitable that London's development wouldn't be reflected in its football teams. Economically stronger thanks to its consolidation as an international financial centre, the capital became more internationalised, more fashionable and attractive. Clubs seizes the moment to strengthen squads and fanbases, especially when their public would be more prone into paying higher ticket prices than in the rest of the country.
Investors also realised the opportunity: Egyptian retail tycoon Mohammed Al-Fayed picked Fulham when he wanted to extend his ventures to football. A Russian billionaire would not look to the north when choosing a club to host his pet project of winning the European title.
Chelsea, the recipient of a pile of cash provided by Roman Abramovich upon his arrival at the London club, in 2003, seemed the most suitable candidate to break the capital's duck. However, the signing of regally paid superstars did not immediately bring the title, although in the Abramovich years Chelsea have never missed out on Champions League football. In their 2004-5 Premiership title, the fact it ended a 50-year for the club was as impressive as Arsenal being the runners-up, since London clubs had never taken the two top spots in the English League.
It was ironic that the end of the European drought came in a season where Chelsea's main players looked past their prime. Even Abramovich seemed unprepared, for after firing manager Andre Villa-Boas he chose to promote assistant manager Roberto Di Matteo instead of hiring an established name to oversee the team, who had been heavily by Napoli (3-1) in the Champions League.The future looks promising for London clubs, according to experts. Teams like Manchester United and Liverpool have built strong brands along the years to keep their places amongst the European elite. But being a capital city is becoming an asset for a football team, explains academic and economist Stefan Szymanski, co-author of Soccernomics, book on football's structural curiosities.